European Commission postpones controversial decision on China's trade status

Clara Guibourg
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“This issue has to be looked at from all important angles," said Frans Timmermans (Source: Getty)

The European Commission (EC) has postponed its decision on whether or not to give China market economy status, a decision Beijing argues is already long overdue.

The commission met today to discuss the plan, but instead of reaching a conclusion tabled it until the second half of 2016, announcing it would be liaising with European industry and major trade partners like the US before deciding anything.

“This issue has to be looked at from all important angles given the subject’s importance for international trade and also for the EU’s economy,” said EC vice president Frans Timmermans after the meeting.

Granting the trade status to China means the EU would struggle to impose anti-dumping duties on Chinese products, and European leaders are divided on the controversial issue.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among its supporters, announcing she was “in principle positive”, but many industry leaders are opposed, arguing it will be the death blow for European manufacturers already struggling to compete with Chinese imports.

Lu Kang, a spokesperson from China’s foreign ministry, urged the EU to give China the status at a press conference last month:

As a WTO member, China has been earnestly honouring each of its legal obligations since its accession, and must be entitled to all the WTO rights.

The EC said in a statement that a decision either way would impact the European economy. The EU is China’s biggest trade partner, and China is the EU’s second-largest, after the US.

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